View Full Version : Acrylic
02-13-2012, 05:03 PM
Hi everyone! I'm new here; my name is Melody.
Just a quick question to other artists who paint in acrylic:
Have you tried acrylic extenders that allow the paint to dry more slowly? I've always painted layer upon (dry) layer to blend colours with acrylic, but wondering for those who have tried extenders, whether that saves time in blending colours, or if it's a hindrance because it doesn't allow for layering in the same way...
I meant to pick some up yesterday at the art store and totally blanked, so just curious what other people's experience is like with it.
Also, would this behave like oil?
02-13-2012, 05:42 PM
Hi Melody and welcome. I have a retarder for acrylics but never use it as I find a mist of water from a spray bottle is sufficient to give me time to blend and I generally paint on canvases up to 100cm x 80cm using a lot of glazes, but I also use Atelier Active paints which can be reactivated to assist the blending.
02-13-2012, 06:23 PM
Hi Melody and welcome.
I use water only - no extender or retarder.
Like Paul (above) I also use a mister or just add water on the brush but find I can blend wet into wet quite easily.
It may, of course, depend upon the ambient temperature:)
02-13-2012, 06:44 PM
Have used it, and at one point did not even consider painting without it. Since I started back painting in Jan, I have not really used it, and did not miss it until today, when I did my first palette knife painting. I like the Atelier Active's or slow-dri when I am doing portraits where 'wet' blending is more important to me.
I think it is both a personal choice, and a decision based on styles. Lately I have been doing a bit more glazing than before, and would not want the paint to take forever to dry (I use liguitex glazing medium which dries VERY fast). If you do a lot of texture work, I would not think you would want it to dry slow either.
02-13-2012, 09:16 PM
I use only water and love to paint in glazes. I do have extender and tried to use it some time ago, but if I want a slow process I go for water soluble oils :)
02-13-2012, 10:57 PM
I use glazing ,medium to slow the drying of the paint. It does have advantages in blending but has disadvantages in that you wait longer for the paint to dry, no brainer eh? Actually I rarely use water for the paint. The glazing medium does give a bit of a white cast to the paint and this dries with no effect to the colour. You do get used to it and learn to adjust the paint before glazing.
02-14-2012, 10:06 AM
Have you tried acrylic extenders that allow the paint to dry more slowly?
Just to help you avoid confusion in the future, additives that slow drying would usually be called retarders. An extender would generally be something to extend the paint - to bulk it up, make it go further.
Also, would this behave like oil?
Not really, no. Nothing can really make acrylic paint behave like oil paint (despite the many marketing claims!) because the mediums are fundamentally so unalike.
I too use water most of the time as my sole additive. Not that retarders aren't worth experimenting with, some techniques do require a little retarder (or a medium that includes some), but a lot of painting can be done without needing to rely on it.
02-14-2012, 03:17 PM
some techniques do require a little retarder (or a medium that includes some), but a lot of painting can be done without needing to rely on it.
Hello Einion, could you say what techniques would require the retarder please? I bought some to learn about its applications, but have yet to try it in a painting.
I read on the label (Liquitex) that one should not use too much. And from their site:
"Do not mix more than 25% per volume into acrylic paint and acrylic mediums or paint may not fully dry."
02-15-2012, 04:22 PM
Hello Einion, could you say what techniques would require the retarder please?
Basically anything that requires more time to move the paint around than you would normally have! As you'll have read you can extend the working time by as much as half, which can be a big help in certain circumstances.
Retarder can be particularly useful for individual painting techniques (e.g. glazing over larger areas, wet-in-wet blending) but it can be helpful just for general painting where you need just a bit of extra working time, for example when painting outdoors where there's a breeze, or during hot & dry weather versus wintertime when the paint naturally dries more slowly.
02-15-2012, 04:53 PM
I'm just learning to paint and have been playing with acrylic for a couple years. All of my attempts were failures when I used only water for blending colors. Could be the hard water in my area but my trials are flowing a lot nicer with a bit of flow enhancer & Old Holland glazing medium. Both of these helped with my style of applying paint in thinner layers without adding excessive gloss or creating an unworkable surface. Water seemed to only dilute the paint. I have started adding a drop or two of retarder to my water also to extend blending time & it hasn't hurt. Not sure if it helps but I generally have just enough time to finish the areas I start so I'll keep using it.
02-16-2012, 01:33 PM
Thanks for the reply, Einion. That will help with the reasoning to try a currently, unknown substance in my acrylic painting.
John, in one of the books I am reading (yeah a book, with real pages and printed pictures...crazy) the author warns against using too much water with acrylics because it may weaken the binder and therefore the adhesion of the pigments to the support. Instead, use mediums and retarders to thin acrylics...opinions?
02-21-2012, 08:13 PM
Bill - For me - using ONLY mediums & retarders would make painting nearly impossible. In some cases - using too much of either without diluting has created unmanageable areas or patches on the canvas that paint won't adhere to. I've bought some ink bottles with dropper tops & plastic squeeze bottles for mediums that I dilute with water when filling. They work great for adding mediums in small quantities. Have you done any experiments of your own yet?
02-22-2012, 04:25 AM
... in one of the books I am reading (yeah a book, with real pages and printed pictures...crazy) the author warns against using too much water with acrylics because it may weaken the binder and therefore the adhesion of the pigments to the support.
This is often stated but as mentioned in a number of previous threads it's often overstated.
You can definitely over-thin with water to the point that adhesion is severely compromised, but a lot depends on the paint range (some have more binder than others), the individual colour (some have more binder than others), the surface you're painting on (how much texture, how absorbent it is) plus the brushes used can have a profound effect - a soft brush used in a gentle way (or even airbrushing, where there's no abrasion at all) is obviously much different from a stiff-bristled brush used with a heavy hand.
In practice what is 'safe' or 'unsafe' varies - a single dilution level might be either, depending on the variables.
03-08-2012, 09:07 PM
Hey so sorry for the very late reply! Thanks for everyone's info and advice! I was having a hard time posting for some reason...anyway, yes I've always just used water, but was wondering if using an extender would make my painting more efficient. Painting commercially now, and, well, time is of the essence! Hard to be profitable when it just takes so darned long. But it's worth the time...:) Thanks again!
03-09-2012, 10:20 AM
Welcome to the fun and sometimes frustrating world of acrylics.
I am going to reinforce what Einion has said. Nothing added to acrylics will make them behave exactly like oils. If you are looking for that, I would suggest going down a few forums and start with oils.
And everything that he said about over thinning with water is bang on. So bear that all in mind. Most of the time I get all the blending time I need just keeping the paints and the support damp with a mist of water.
Personally, I basically use just water to dilute my acrylics. If I am going really thin, especially on a relatively non-absorbant surface, I buffer my viscosity and adhesion with a little gel medium (gloss, matte, or 50:50 mix).
When working on paper (primed or unprimed), or in a sketchbook, I do like to use a bit more medium for transparent work. I have even occasionally pulled it out to use when doing multiple layers on heavier supports. And after some experimentation I have found a recipe for a glazing medium that works very well form me.
4 to 5 parts gel medium
1 part retarder
Mix well - adjust viscosity with water
If storing for an extended time I add a few drops of ammonia
The ammonia helps to maintain the mix and flow characteristics and inhibits fungal growth. It works pretty well without the retarder, but I found that while it does slow the drying a little, the improved flow characteristics are worth the cost. I will mix up a gloss, a matte, and a semigloss batches and store them in cheap plastic squeeze bottles I get at a dollar store. I don't use it often, but when I do, it is on hand.
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